122.2: Polly Duff Bresnick:: from Old Gus Eats 122

We are all familiar with John Keats' reaction to reading George Chapman's translations of Homer: "Yet did I never breathe its pure serene / Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold." What Keats saw in Chapman's translation was something created entirely new that he had technically read before in other versions. A question that inevitably must be confronted when translating an already-translated work is what the new version will add or reveal about the source text. How can the translator make the experience of that text, distanced through the otherness of a foreign language, vibrant, new, and purposeful? Polly Duff Bresnick, in the translations below, sees Homer's Odyssey new by literally looking at Homer's Ancient Greek words and asking: what do I see in these words, these characters? The result is the eye-rhyme translation Old Gus Eats, an English version visually mined from the Ancient Greek letters. Bresnick's approach takes the etymology of "translate" seriously: "to carry across." And she faithfully carries her own image of each word across from Ancient Greek to contemporary English, and "Ἑρμείας" becomes "Empanada," "Κρονίδη" becomes "Klonopin," and "ὠδύσαο, Ζεῦ" becomes a "windowed zoo." Come into these poems, look at the physical words, and see what you can see. Andrew Wessels

               3.


ἀλλ᾽ ὁ μὲν Αἰθίοπας μετεκίαθε τηλόθ᾽ ἐόντας,
Αἰθίοπας τοὶ διχθὰ δεδαίαται, ἔσχατοι ἀνδρῶν,
οἱ μὲν δυσομένου Ὑπερίονος οἱ δ᾽ ἀνιόντος,
ἀντιόων ταύρων τε καὶ ἀρνειῶν ἑκατόμβης.
ἔνθ᾽ ὅ γ᾽ ἐτέρπετο δαιτὶ παρήμενος: οἱ δὲ δὴ ἄλλοι
Ζηνὸς ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν Ὀλυμπίου ἁθρόοι ἦσαν.
τοῖσι δὲ μύθων ἦρχε πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε:
μνήσατο γὰρ κατὰ θυμὸν ἀμύμονος Αἰγίσθοιο,
τόν ῥ᾽ Ἀγαμεμνονίδης τηλεκλυτὸς ἔκταν᾽ Ὀρέστης:
τοῦ ὅ γ᾽ ἐπιμνησθεὶς ἔπε᾽ ἀθανάτοισι μετηύδα:



3.


All over ointment metallic tipi emotes
ailment toys, onyx sedation, and exotic asprin.
“O my ovulation,” Yettis oil on voluptuously.
Avatar-taupe waxes the key envelope: Ecto-Skeletal, Inc.
Eva, O you entrepreneur, so salty and tectonic, an olden amulet.
Zinc, Evie, metropolitan orangutans pool nearer.
Total day move: next train agape, two over two.
“Unwrap your ovum curtain for asparagus aioli,”
a top Ayurvedic temptress’s uterus erects Oedipus.
You ought to elucidate Etta of the tautological metric system.



               4.


ὢ πόποι, οἷον δή νυ θεοὺς βροτοὶ αἰτιόωνται:
ἐξ ἡμέων γάρ φασι κάκ᾽ ἔμμεναι, οἱ δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ
σφῇσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὑπὲρ μόρον ἄλγε᾽ ἔχουσιν,
ὡς καὶ νῦν Αἴγισθος ὑπὲρ μόρον Ἀτρεΐδαο
γῆμ᾽ ἄλοχον μνηστήν, τὸν δ᾽ ἔκτανε νοστήσαντα,
εἰδὼς αἰπὺν ὄλεθρον, ἐπεὶ πρό οἱ εἴπομεν ἡμεῖς,
Ἑρμείαν πέμψαντες, ἐύσκοπον ἀργεϊφόντην,
μήτ᾽ αὐτὸν κτείνειν μήτε μνάασθαι ἄκοιτιν:
ἐκ γὰρ Ὀρέσταο τίσις ἔσσεται Ἀτρεΐδαο,
ὁππότ᾽ ἂν ἡβήσῃ τε καὶ ἧς ἱμείρεται αἴης.
ὣς ἔφαθ᾽ Ἑρμείας, ἀλλ᾽ οὐ φρένας Αἰγίσθοιο
πεῖθ᾽ ἀγαθὰ φρονέων: νῦν δ᾽ ἁθρόα πάντ᾽ ἀπέτισεν.



4.


Tits, Tokyo Rose, go through revolving ‘Booty Call’ air waves:
We waterfall your highly septic exlax horn: joy toil, flat turtle.
Ogden Nash Air-balled but still hit the net: Oreo womb exodus.
Warcraft’s selling value: Iceland cider tours in Toledo.
Defense encourages humane tonsil and native formation.
“Allow shoving over water?” eternal noons ask electric niches.
“Equestrian maneuvers, evaporated analogy.”
Urine’s arrows explode until they impact your anxiety.
Alex, youth potato tonic ignites egg gelato.
Carrots shave borderline site recalling immortal magnet ankle.
Wake up, Empanada. All you perverts always oil up
top stack equilibrium: vulture ape on target. A naive doorway.



               5.


τὸν δ᾽ ἠμείβετ᾽ ἔπειτα θεά, γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη:
‘ὦ πάτερ ἡμέτερε Κρονίδη, ὕπατε κρειόντων,
καὶ λίην κεῖνός γε ἐοικότι κεῖται ὀλέθρῳ:
ὡς ἀπόλοιτο καὶ ἄλλος, ὅτις τοιαῦτά γε ῥέζοι:
ἀλλά μοι ἀμφ᾽ Ὀδυσῆι δαΐφρονι δαίεται ἦτορ,
δυσμόρῳ, ὃς δὴ δηθὰ φίλων ἄπο πήματα πάσχει

νήσῳ ἐν ἀμφιρύτῃ, ὅθι τ᾽ ὀμφαλός ἐστι θαλάσσης.
νῆσος δενδρήεσσα, θεὰ δ᾽ ἐν δώματα ναίει,
Ἄτλαντος θυγάτηρ ὀλοόφρονος, ὅς τε θαλάσσης
πάσης βένθεα οἶδεν, ἔχει δέ τε κίονας αὐτὸς
μακράς, αἳ γαῖάν τε καὶ οὐρανὸν ἀμφὶς ἔχουσιν.

τοῦ θυγάτηρ δύστηνον ὀδυρόμενον κατερύκει,
αἰεὶ δὲ μαλακοῖσι καὶ αἱμυλίοισι λόγοισιν
θέλγει, ὅπως Ἰθάκης ἐπιλήσεται: αὐτὰρ Ὀδυσσεύς,
ἱέμενος καὶ καπνὸν ἀποθρῴσκοντα νοῆσαι
ἧς γαίης, θανέειν ἱμείρεται. οὐδέ νυ σοί περ
ἐντρέπεται φίλον ἦτορ, Ὀλύμπιε. οὔ νύ τ᾽ Ὀδυσσεὺς
Ἀργείων παρὰ νηυσὶ χαρίζετο ἱερὰ ῥέζων
Τροίῃ ἐν εὐρείῃ; τί νύ οἱ τόσον ὠδύσαο, Ζεῦ;



5.


A toed nimbus entertained each yarlmukkah over
who texted Neptune’s Klonopin uptight kaleidoscope.
Kale envy killed your elves. Kotex everywhere.
We attorneys calm havoc — attic? Toilet? We peed on it
AND your axial ovary — diurnal dexedrine muffin top.
Overpowered occult snacks appear into triangle taxonomy.

Snow, Eve, and ampersands oil Tupac’s evil ancestor cartoons.
Vacuum underwear ate the devil’s Suamatran valium.
Avatars out-tap spooky, vaporous octa-moons,
with talons beveled, olden and extra, they die by cloven autos.
Snake packs as yellow as tea coil, evaporate: Aphids’ exodus.

Till over-toppled bug valve, under-evolved caterpillar puke.
Alleles dreaded maximum climax. Aluminum joy molotovs
delay otherwise italic, extenuated, avian Old Gus,
that jealous cat — cavalier, attractive, venereal.
NY Yankees. O lovers, Mexican gourd volume team:

Every time involved on top, Ovaltine overts Old Gus,
Apparently taupe oval exacto-ed his happiness.
Toil everyone to vein out today’s windowed zoo.


Editor’s Notes: Stanza 4 was translated in collaboration with Caleb Shively.

The opening section of Old Gus Eats is available as a broadside in Chapvelope Three from TOA.